So you know the old maxim about the parents who catch their kid smoking a cigarette and, to punish him, they make him smoke two whole packs? The idea is that you so overwhelm the child with cigarettes that he will no longer want one. (Now that we think about it, this seems like a terrible thing to do to a child.) We thought about that punishment while watching Carmelo Anthony during last night's Knicks' 111-78 win over the Charlotte Bobcats, ending New York's six-game losing streak. The guy spent last Saturday smoking lots of cigarettes, shooting 30 times (and missing 20) in a loss to Denver. Last night, he looked like cigarettes made him nauseous.
Carmelo had one point last night — one — on 0-of-7 shooting, at many points looking like it was just murder for him to pass up shots. But he made an effort, and his teammates more than picked him up. (And all told, he didn't look out of sync or anything; he was just passing up shots.) Last night was probably the best game of the season for seven different Knicks, most notably Amar'e Stoudemire (who scored 18 points and had a couple relieving oh-good-he-can-still-do-that above-the-rim monster dunks) and Tyson Chandler, who scored 20 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and pretty much dominated every second of the game. When he is engaged and fully operational, Chandler (maybe this is something that comes with having a ring?) has a level of intensity so high that you're a little afraid he's going to eat a teammate. (Jeremy Lin first, we'd presume, followed by Toney Douglas and Steve Novak.) Last night was one of those nights. It can be a little scary.
The Bobcats are a pretty dreadful team — it's a bit embarrassing the Knicks lost to them at home this year — and the Knicks took full advantage, emptying out the bench to the point that Lin had eight points, four assists, and two boards in six minutes. (That's quite active.) It is just the Bobcats, but it was encouraging to see the Knicks build off the tough loss to Denver. They played like a real NBA basketball team, with passes and motion and picks and all sorts of offense-related activities that most fans had sorta forgotten were possible. They looked, at last, alive. Imagine what might happen when Carmelo scores more than one point.
The Knicks play again tonight, against the surprising Cleveland Cavaliers, a team the Knicks are just a half-game ahead of for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. (Not that that matters now, but still.) It is very possible that Baron Davis will be on the floor tonight. The Knicks played well, and they have a point guard now and Carmelo playing unselfishly and Amar'e looking alert and Landry finally confident and Chandler looking like he wants to kill everything in his path. One game can make you feel a whole bunch better. In the same way that one loss tonight can make it all come crashing down, again.